Plagiacriticism: Berlin’s ‚Theatre Meeting‘ Explained

Guttenberg introduces the Theatertreffen

Dr. Herr Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the former German defense minister better known to some as Baron Cut-and-Paste, hasn’t had much to do since resigning recently in an overblown scandal, so he kindly offered his services to us as a guest blogger. In his first post, Guttenberg gives you, lovely reader, a high-octane English introduction to this year’s Theatertreffen – and be sure to check back, because he’ll return throughout the festival to offer his thoughts on the various productions and German theatre in general.

You simply cannot miss the 2011 Theatertreffen („theatre meeting“)! This Berlin festival has been hosting this exhibition of the German language theatre landscape ever since 1964. Experience new trends and controversial themes from 6th to 23rd May with the ten most notableoutstanding, exciting and innovative productions from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Some complain that the Theatertreffen is just a hit parade of “winners” that reduces to losers the unnamed works not selected (often for political reasons). And every theatre student knows that German drama is more or less a comedy-free zone. Hell, let’s face it, some pieces can be difficult to watch.

But we shouldn’t let these spoil-sports ruin our fun. We can expect tt11 to be bigger, louder, and sillier than its predecessors. With their exhilarating action sequences, the artists defy the laws of gravity and dictates of narrative logic.

And even those who do not speak the Teutonic tongue will be able to sample their selection, as the festival reaches out by presenting five plays with English surtitles: Tchekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, Testament (performed by Berlin’s own She She Pop), Mad Blood, The Beaver Coat, and Schiller’s classic Don Carlos.

My own personal favorite is Mad Blood („Verrücktes Blut“ in German), an exciting play about a female school teacher running amok by forcing her class to watch Schiller’s The Robbers at the point of a gun. The teacher uses Schiller to give them values that they don’t have, but it’s very ambivalent and it’s not just one way. The students learn to adjust their idea of what girls are, that they’re not always sluts, through Love and Intrigue, and they learn that they shouldn’t use violence through The Robbers. Mad Blood plays 11th – 14th May in Ballhaus Naunynstraße, with a public viewing in the Sony Center on 13th May.

So get ready – Germany takes theatre seriously – and the ten productions this year have the highest velocity and lowest IQ yet!


Matt Cornish, geboren 1983 in Los Angeles, hat einen Master of Fine Arts in Dramaturgie und Theaterkritik der Yale School of Drama. Derzeit macht er in Yale seinen Doctor of Fine Arts, dieses Jahr in Berlin im Rahmen eines Fulbright-Stipendiums. In seiner Dissertation untersucht er, wie deutsche Regisseure und Dramatiker seit 1989 die Geschichte der deutschen Teilung im Theater benutzt oder dargestellt haben. Er schreibt unter anderem für die Zeitschriften Theater, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art und TheatreForum.

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